Field Worker: Maurice R. Anderson
Date: November 24, 1937
Name: Mrs. J.B. Wilson
Residence: Maysville, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: September 8, 1861
Place of Birth: Texas
Father: Charley Worley, born in Tennessee
Mother: Martha Criner, born in Tennessee
I was born in 1861 in Texas. I came to the Indian Territory with my
father and mother in 1873. We moved from Texas to the Criner Ranch, located about
nine miles northwest of where Maysville is now. We came through in a wagon. At
that time there were no railroads running into the Indian Territory from Texas.
The Criner Ranch was owned by my mother's brother, George
Criner. My uncle had written for my father to come and work on his
ranch. After we were settled at the ranch, my father went to work for Uncle George
as herd boss.
There was no land in cultivation on the ranch except for the garden spot.
The first year we were here my father turned under forty acres of land and put it in corn.
All people raised in those days were cattle and small gardens.
There was no school then for the children to go to and the young boys and
girls were brought up mostly in the saddle. I have ridden over the prairies with my
father just like one of the cowhands helping herd cattle. We never were bothered by
the Indians no by cattle thieves, but the panthers would kill a steer every day or so.
We lived on a big creek and not far from the Washita River.
Later this creek was named Criner Creek, after my uncle, George Criner.
I remember several times when the Indians would come to our log house and
peep through the cracks but my mother was not afraid of them. When she would to to
the door they would try to talk to her. Their faces would be painted and they always
carried tomahawks in their hands. Sometimes Mother would give them a big piece of
beef as there always was plenty of beef or deer in our smoke house and as soon as she
would give them something to eat, they would go away.
In the early days I leaned to ride, rope and handle a rifle like a man.
When I was about seventeen years old I have ridden fifteen to twenty miles to a
dance. Then the few people living in this part of the country lived either along the
Washita River or along some large creek where there was running water.
There were a few farms in cultivation along the river where Pauls
Valley is now but the people living around in this part of the country were
cattle ranchers. My father and Uncle George would drive cattle to Fort
Smith, Arkansas, to market and my father would make a trip to Sherman,
Texas, about twice a year for supplies. He would go in a wagon and
sometimes it would take up to three weeks to make the trip. The time would be long
or short just according to the weather. Then there were no roads or bridges across
There were no fences to speak of around over this part of the country.
Where a small patch of land was in cultivation there would be a log rail fence
around it the prairies were covered with prairie grass from knew to waist high. A
horseback rider would have to stand up in his stirrups to see the cattle grazing
along the river.
There were very few trees along the rivers and creeks those days and what
few there were you could see for miles around.
In 1880, I was married to a young man who owned a ranch just west of Beef
Creek store which was owned by John Mays. We were married under the
Chickasaw Indian law and we had to pay $50.00 to the Chickasaw Government. This
$50.00 ;made us citizens of the Chickasaw Nation and gave us a right to
all the land we wanted to control.
My husband's ranch covered about ten thousand acres and we had cattle
ranging from the Washita River to the Arbuckle Mountains.
Our ranch house was a double log house and my husband always kept five or
six cowhands all the time. After we were married I never did any work helping with
the cattle as it took all my time cooking for the cowhands. I still own my side
saddle that I bought in 1885(1883?).
In the early 80's, my father moved to Erin Springs and
went to farming. At that time my husband would haul our supplies from Texas and
when he would go for supplies sometimes he would be gone two weeks. He was always
afraid for me and our baby to stay on the ranch so I would have to saddle my old mule we
owned and go stay with my father until my husband returned from Texas. The cowhands
would have to do their own cooking and when I would come home it would take two or three
days to get things cleaned up..
The first church that I went to in the Indian Territory was a log church
house at Beef Creek in 1879.
Old Beef Creek is now called Maysville.
I now live at Maysville. I have lived in and around
here since 1873.